Just Indulge

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We can’t afford to go to Paris or stay at some fancy resort. There are days when indulging can make ones home feel four-star.

Like buying Mayan Mojo, a fresh roasted coffee from Pangea Bakery (roasted by Prescott Coffee Company) so our morning coffee feels luxurious. Or buying Challah bread from Pangea Bakery so I can enjoy garlic bread with my spaghetti. In this mass-producing society, some food, lovingly crafted makes a regular morning or evening special. I couldn’t resist sneaking a piece or two from the bag when I got home and lathering it with Salmon cream cheese. Sometimes a four-star experience only takes a little extra money, your home, and someone sitting across from you to enjoy it, too.

Just indulge.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Fancy Wine Labels

Wine labels fascinate me. The more creative the label the more I am apt to buy that wine. Recently, I tried two different wines: Spin the Bottle and CarniVore. Both diversely different in taste and color.

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Spin the Bottle has a label where the light causes the bottle to spin. It is a sweet wine. CarniVore has a black label with a tear through the center as if a carnivore had clawed it’s way through it. The wine is very dark, strong, and definitely full bodied.

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Wine is enjoyable. It gives me a sense of sophistication, visions of rolling green hills, and brown horses as if life didn’t have a Google calendar sending text reminders to my phone of things to do and places to go. Of course, my sense of sophistication is partnered with bare feet propped on the coffee table! Not exactly, Vogue, and that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is the time I set aside in the midst of a full life to read, talk, or just relax without any agenda. Life is good when full of things to do, a sense of purpose, but it’s not good if every moment is filled with good things.

Wine labels are like stories or art, picturing the simple things of life, of vineyards, open air, free time and family. Good things better enjoyed together with a glass of wine, bare feet on the coffee table, and lots of cheese.

Stumbling and Failing

In listening to the Book of Romans on my ipod shuffle, Romans 14 speaks about not causing your brother to stumble. It struck me.

Ministries use that verse mainly to apply to recovery people. It can also apply to those who are trying to lose weight. When I first began this struggle, the support all came from my husband.

Tony supported me when I said no fast food or restaurants with large portions or buffets. I had to be firm with others when they would want to go someplace that would cause me to stumble. They weren’t changing their lifestyle. Food is something I enjoy and at that time, I wouldn’t enjoy the outing if my weakness constantly challenged my new food discipline. People don’t think about this kind of stumbling.

You can’t eat your salad while someone orders take out pizza. You end up snacking on the pizza. My husband understood that weakness and chose to support me with his eating habits. This has kept his health in great form. Though I am stronger, eating right still has its challenges.

My husband eats on a dinner plate. I eat on a dessert plate. He’s skinny. I struggle. I still don’t eat at restaurants whose portions are too big or places that have buffets. I plan my eating out so my calorie intake doesn’t negatively affect my continuous goal of reaching 145. Persistence has paid off.

Forty-eight pounds later, I have learned discipline. My taste buds have changed. To say no means a better life later. I have learned, in order for someone to successfully do a lifestyle change, the whole household must support the person, too.

So when your friend or family member is trying to lose weight, support them physically by eating what they eat. Don’t order a pizza while they eat a salad. The early part of losing weight is a difficult time for them. Their stomach is still used to eating large and their mind wants what they can’t eat.

How have you supported friends or family when they were trying to get healthy?

Dark Chocolate Sea-Salted Toffee @incourage

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Before the heat of summer descended upon us making me reluctant to turn on the oven, I decided to brave making candy on that Saturday.

In the past, my attempts to make candy failed. I used the wrong ingredients or I cooked it too long. Bread and Wine author, Shauna Niequist insists the recipe for Dark Chocolate Sea-Salted Toffee doesn’t need a candy thermometer.

It’s 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of dark chocolate chips, and 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt. Her descriptions on page 196 made creating this candy easy. My friends that night loved the toffee. The pop of salt, said my friend, was pleasant.

The treat was consumed over the week, but it does soften if at room temperature too long. Niequist admitted this, and when you live in Arizona, the softening point comes quickly. So store this great treat in the refrigerator when not serving it. Meanwhile, Incourage has a book club study going on right now here.

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House Shame (Bread and Wine Review, Part 1)

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How many times have I said that I want people to stop over unannounced sometimes (I stress the word sometimes)? Not every time, but sometimes. I used to keep baked goods on hand and fresh tea bags in case someone wanted to stop by to talk, eat, and connect. My husband and I designed our kitchen to be like a coffee house, to encourage people to visit. What happened is reflected by author, Shauna Niequist in her book, Bread and Wine. There is so much here that I can relate to, including the writer part.

Shauna speaks about her friend who owns a beautiful home. Her friend collects hotel silver, presses her napkins, and Shauna has never seen her home, “less than sparkling. Ever.”

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She came in and hugged me and sat on the couch in our kitchen, and we chatted about various things–her work, my work, our kids. And I tried not to absolutely freak out. I hope she didn’t notice that I practically developed a facial tic while we chatted.

This is the thing: it was an unannounced stopover. While I was writing. When I am writing at home, it’s as though I am a homebound invalid. No makeup, hair in a ratty bun just above my forehead. Crooked glasses, Aaron’s gym socks. I’m not suggesting I was just a little ragged around the edges; I was terrifying. My brother had given me a sailing shirt, one of those half-zips made of some sort of wicking fabric. I thought it would make me look a little sporty; it makes me look like a forty-eight-year-old athletic director at a small women’s college.

Let’s talk for a moment about my home during that fateful visit. First, the smell: my whole house smelled because I hadn’t done the dishes for days. Many, many days. There are reasons for this, of course, but when someone’s standing in your kitchen, it’s hard to explain the breakfast dishes on the coffee table, the popcorn bits all over the rug, and the smell–heavens, the smell!–of dirty dishes in the sink.

This is the shame double whammy–my body and my house. It was almost physically painful. But this is the thing: she’s my friend. And even though having her sit right in the middle of my house mess set off every shame alarm I have, I stayed there, perched on my couch, listening and talking.

Just the week before, she and I had been talking about the writing I was doing, and I was telling her that while I’m writing about food, what I’m finding is that a lot of it is about shame, about the ways we feel inferior, and because of those feelings, we hide. And of course, it’s all fun and games to talk about these those ideas, and then the next thing you know, you’re in your husband’s gym socks and your kitchen stinks. You’ve got a chance to practice what you’re preaching, and you’re breaking out in hives.

I felt within myself the desire to shoo her out, to hide, to keep her from the disorder that is my real, actual life some days. But I took a deep breath, and she sat there listening to me across my dirty coffee table, and we talked about community and family and authenticity. It’s easy to talk about it, and really, really hard sometimes to practice it.

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Shauna really takes us to the heart of hospitality here. All of the above is what I have felt, done, and struggled with. My family might remember the times when I wanted a half an hour warning before they came over to hurry and hide the undone dishes, spray some air freshener into the air, and make sure I could treat my family with all the love of hospitality. I agree with Shauna for these next reasons why most of us do not entertain and come together in fellowship:

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This is why the door stays closed for so many of us, literally and figuratively. One friend promises she’ll start having people over when they finally have money to remodel. Another says she’d be too nervous that people wouldn’t eat the food she made, so she never makes the invitation.

But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the richest moments in life–the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love–if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door. I know it’s scary, but throw open the door anyway, even though someone might see you in your terribly ugly half-zip.

I don’t want to hear from the people whose house is always Home and Garden perfect (bless you for your beauty!), but from those of us, like me and my husband who struggle to keep the house clean and balance work and family in this crazy ride we call life. Be brave. Is your house always picture perfect? What do you think of Shauna’s words?

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This is part one of my review of Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table With Recipes, published by Zondervan. This excerpt was done with permission from page 108-109.

Have You Checked Out My New Foodie Blog?

Copyright, 2012; image can be bought here http://www.cafepress.com/thehahnhuntinglodge

As you know, I now only blog Monday through Friday here. But on the Whine and Cheese Blog I write on food, beer, and wine and about those who serve them. Recently, I interviewed Kat Schaeffer from Steamboat Springs, Colorado as my initial blog post in a special Sunday edition on September 30. This week I have posted recipes of my own invention, inspired by the professionals. The Whine and Cheese Blog posts Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Happy Friday to you all! Are there any prayer requests?